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River Angas

Strathalbyn & District
Heritage Centre,
South Australia


Chairman’s report 2020

I would firstly like to thank the committee and all general volunteers for their contributions and support during my tenure as Chairman. This year the world was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented event in our lifetime. In response to Government dictates, the museum was closed to both the public and formalized volunteer activities from 1st April for ten weeks. Obviously during this period we did not earn any revenue and the power was disconnected from appliances and displays to reduce costs. Ken will probably provide an insight into the financial impact of the closure. During the closure the lawns were mowed by Lorraine & Bob fortnightly, the letter box and email checked by Barry and other volunteers called in to the museum periodically to check that all was well. We are now operating under the Government guidelines which by now you will all be familiar.

Warren, Ken and I attended the NTSA AGM in Adelaide in November as Strathalbyn branch representatives. A regional meeting was arranged for 25th August 2019 at Coromandel Valley. This meeting was cancelled due to a health issue with the host Chairman and has not as yet been rescheduled.

The Gilberts Motor museum opened during the year which we could have either regarded as competition or the opportunity to cooperate to the benefit of both museums. At this time, we have not had any formal discussions with them. Following several requests to provide on loan items to the Motor museum, we have now formulated a loan policy as a reference for future item loan requests from any party.

We reverted back to monthly committee meetings from the start of the new financial year. A sub-committee was formed to better manage maintenance activities. To this end, a prioritized job list was compiled and provided to volunteers. One project is worthy of special note, viz the attempt to recondition the SES jeep, initiated by Gary. Unfortunately, after early promise from the considerable effort by Gary and his sidekick Kon, the head gasket blew and the project was reluctantly abandoned.

We booked a site for the annual Strathalbyn Trash and Treasure day but cancelled out due to the inclement weather forecast. The financial outcome from the South Australia Living Arts display at the museum was disappointing, in part due to poor communications from that body. Another successful garage sale was held at the Poyner home in November. Thanks to Geoff and Ed for providing the venue and brownie points for Geoff for placing the advertising signs throughout the town at sunrise and collecting them in the afternoon. Geoff is one of those highly valued volunteers who will cheerfully tackle any task requiring attention. The garage sale scheduled for early May was cancelled due to COVID.

A number of successful group tours were conducted, particularly in the first half of the year. Our thanks to Tour Coordinator John for organizing the visits and arranging volunteer assistance. John also volunteered to pursue other matters including book sales at the Visitor Information Centre, organization of our Christmas lunch and successfully lobbying Rotary for financial assistance for the printing of improved museum brochures. The content and layout of the brochure is being developed by John and Warren.

Thanks to Treasurer Ken for another year of reliably attending to the financial responsibilities of the branch. Ken also volunteered for specialized jobs, such as the modification of an old display case for use in the Bell and Co Store display.
Barry has completed another sterling year as Secretary, probably the most onerous and demanding position in any organization. He is also one of the first to volunteer for other tasks and this year, also assumed the responsibility of compiling the quarterly desk duty rosters.

Warren took on the role of Curator this year and has displayed his usual high work ethic. Warren, in liaison with Mick, successfully applied for a MaC grant for archival storage items. Ann is the perfect support for Warren and also attends to the procedural requirements for donated items and memorabilia. She is a productive and proactive volunteer who is always willing to step up to perform any task which requires attention.

Bob quietly again attended to his kitchen catering role and always ensured the supply of morning tea and cleaning supplies were adequate. Mick continued his work on display items in the back room, often unnoticed but not unappreciated. The gardens continue to be a credit to the museum, thanks to the efforts of our head gardener Lorraine and her assistants Bob and Keven. Kon continued with his monthly barbeque duty. My thanks to the hard working and reliable Gary, Kon, Peter, Bob, Keven, John, Geoff and Mark for their contributions during the year. Visitors are an integral part of the operation of the museum and I would like to thank all those who performed door duty during the year. Additional volunteers for door duty to spread the work load would be appreciated.

Committeeman and long term resident in the district, Trevor McLean was successfully nominated to the Alexandrina Council Heritage Advisory Committee. We now have the ability to receive first hand reports on heritage issues within the district.

Trevor and Jill devoted a great amount of time and energy to progress the Bell and Co Store project. The completion date of the project and acquittal of the grant has been extended to be the end of the year.

We were unsuccessful in finding a nomination for Vice-Chairman and filling the other Management Committee executive positions has become increasingly difficult. It is clear that our committee is ageing (alarmingly, some may say) with no infusion of new blood in recent years. While having a committee succession plan in place is probably a pipe dream, we need to seriously embark on a recruitment programme targeting potential future committee volunteers.

Despite the interruption to our operations by the Corona virus, we can be satisfied with our achievements during the year in the collection and preservation of heritage items and information for those who will come after us and for providing a platform for visitor education and volunteer interest and friendship. Hopefully this year will eventually become a safe and less complicated one.

Terry Watson















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